Yesterday, I witnessed a surprisingly good contest between the Ole Miss Rebels and LSU Tigers on CBS. Expected to be an LSU blowout, it was a hard-fought, physical game with plenty of twists and turns.
As those annoying commentators from CBS said (paraphrasing), "The full moon, Les Miles and Houston Nutt: anything can happen!"
Everything can happen in the SEC, except for good officiating (zing!). However, a tragic misinformed rule in the NCAA rule book marred such a great game.
"Touchdown is good! Unsportsmanlike conduct! No. 16 on the offense! Fifteen-yard penalty will be assessed on the kickoff!"
The referee declared after Ole Miss WR Markeith Summers made a nice somersault into the end zone to give Houston Nutt's team a 36-35 lead after the extra point was good.
If you watched the rest of the game, you knew the 15 extra yards for LSU aided them in a last minute drive. LSU ended up winning the game, 43-36.
While LSU may have won that game regardless of the penalty, throwing the yellow flag was a ridiculous punishment for someone who had no intention of taunting LSU.
Doing a simple flip into the end zone should not be punished. It should be rewarded. It takes a lot of skill to make a nice flip to seal an awesome play. He should get paid for that.
With all kidding aside, I am sick and tired of the excessive "holier than thou" penalties on players who are just celebrating for touchdowns. In 2010, that penalty would call back that touchdown.
Fair? I'll let you decide.
On the same token, I do support a 15-yard penalty on a guy who taunts the other team or does an excessively long celebration. Taunting and excessive celebration are very tasteless and provokes the other team. This obviously leads to fights. Fights are never a good thing after the whistle is blown.
But was that flip excessive? Does the SEC try to take the joy out of the game? Does the NCAA stand for No Celebration Athletic Association?
Answer key: 1. No. 2. Seems like it. 3. Should be.
A bigger question is, why did the SEC not come down on any players involved in the Auburn vs. Georgia brawl towards the end of the game, yet punished a guy who did a flip?
The NCAA, and in particular the SEC, needs to draw a fine line between normal and excessive celebration. If the line is crossed, by all means penalize the perpetrator. But if it's just two or three guys high-fiving each other, don't flag that. Know a limit and make it clear to the schools where the line is.
Quit making unnecessary penalties that can and will influence the outcome of the game. As one myself, the main goal of a ref is not to make a call influencing the game. Another goal is to enforce the rules of the game. If the rule is no celebration, then that ref did his job.
However, officials should not be forced to penalize players for every little celebratory antic. They should not be forced to cost a team a game because some bureaucrat wants to see an end to celebrations.
It's football! It's an emotional sport. Let them celebrate reasonably and responsibly.
It's like outlawing alcohol in the US. It failed in the 1920s because it was too tight of a restriction for Americans to accept.
To further use the beer-celebration analogy, let them drink in moderation, but don't let them be drunk. This principle is not only logical, it's Biblical. The Bible says not to get drunk; it never says not to drink in moderation.
So SEC and NCAA, let the players celebrate moderately, but not too much. If the No Celebration Athletic Association continues its crackdown on celebration, then eventually the officials will have to be so strict that it will eventually alienate the relationship between players, coaches and officials.
Coaches already don't like refs and vice versa. It will just make it worse. This growing animosity between teams and officials will be a much bigger problem than not penalizing a flip into the end zone.
Feel free to comment on this article as I think this rule is incredibly stupid and needs to be changed.